Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do you have a Library idea or a Bookstore idea?

Bookstore ideas stand up over time, are typically high level (like, "The Tipping Point") and might change the way your audience thinks. Bookstore ideas are akin to purchasing a book from a bookstore because you plan to reference the idea occasionally, like the ideas in The Tipping Point.

Library ideas evolve, impart specific knowledge and are typically tactical (like, "Survival is Not Enough"). Library ideas are akin to taking a book out of the library to learn a specific bit of information, like a new method for making bread. There's no need to buy the book because you'll remember what you need after the book is returned to your library.

To come up with one bookstore idea, you'll come up with some library ideas and, as Seth Godin says, a lot of bad ideas.

How does your idea generator work?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Value of Role Playing

When you're getting ready to make your pitch, someone might suggest role playing. Don't. Role playing will hurt your pitch.

I appreciate that this runs counter to almost all accepted sales training methods; however, I have yet to be shown how role playing actually results in more successful pitches.

There is a lot of value; however, in practising your pitch before delivery. What's the difference between role playing and practising?

In role playing, not only are you practising your pitch you are also pretending that the person listening to your pitch is your final audience. Reality is, that person is also pretending, they are pretending to be your final audience. Simply practising your pitch removes the layer of make believe from role playing and allows you to focus on the most important aspect of your pitch - your content!

Give you an example. You are pitching the VP of Human Resources at your organization. A colleague agrees to "role play" as the VP. Why is your colleague qualified to pretend to be the VP? Are they and the VP personal friends? Have they worked together closely? Is your colleague a trained actor? Probably "none of the above." You will spend most of your role play responding to your colleague, who is inventing feedback they think the VP would say instead of focusing on your content.

Some of you are thinking, "role playing is valuable. You wouldn't give the same pitch to a peer as you would a Director, a VP or a CEO." I agree absolutely; however, how you pitch to each type of individual goes back to Communications 101 - know your audience.

Once you know your final audience - for example, your CEO responds best to visuals or your VP wants to see an implementation plan - you build your pitch to suit that audience. Then, when you ask a colleague to help you practise, that individual can focus on how well your content fits your final audience instead of trying to invent things your final audience might say.

What do you think? Does role playing have a place outside a stage or screen?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm Not Here to Talk Business

What is your approach to a networking event?

Most individuals I see at networking events, I attend 2-3 per month, fall into 1 of 3 categories:
1) Attending to hang out with current acquaintances or clients only
2) Attending to start a relationship with 1-2 new people and reconnect with current contacts
3) Attending to hand out as many business cards as possible in a 1-2 hour span

The last group makes me crazy and, I feel, is the reason for this common interaction at networking events.

Common Acquaintance - Hamish, meet Fred. Fred is the VP Marketing for A Consumer Brand Corp.
Me - Pleased to meet you Fred, Hamish Knox with A Marketing & Advertising Agency
Fred - We do all of our ad work in house

Hmmm. No pleasantry, no "how do you know our Common Acquaintance," just "I have no interest in talking to you because I assume you're going to talk business with me."

I appreciate this is a defensive move honed over years of pushing away salespeople who see networking events the same way a shark looks at a school of tuna; however, to completely cut off the opportunity to get to know a new person just because Fred thinks I might talk business is ludicrous to me.

If business is truly about relationships then shutting down the opportunity to develop new relationships makes me wonder why Fred would attend networking events at all when he could maintain current relationships elsewhere.

What do you think? What would your response be to Fred's reaction?